Saturday, February 02, 2008

Negative noise

...is the only way to describe noise reducing headphones. Apparently they pick up the sound waves, pop the opposite sign in front of them (turn plusses into minusses, sort of thing) and it eliminates much of the noise. My friend Wu Wei had drawn my attention to this, and ever keen to hear every note on the classical spectrum, especially when I am flying, I've invested a huge amount of money in the Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones. About the comfort I'll talk later.

Already at home I noticed it, while using them for some studies - in between emissions the room had gone all quiet, the computer was almost not buzzing any more....interesting! At the airport, too, it became so loud when I switched them off. I could still hear noises, but very quietly - I would hope you can hear a fire alarm. For the music they were great, as long as you did not eat chewing gum or let your head slip to the side, when they might move slightly off the focus of your ears. And in the descents I had real trouble hearing the music - which was kind of weird. But they are a vast improvement on the ultimate ears which fell apart within 4 months, and were far from cheap.

On comfort - they do give your ears a good squeeze. If you wear glasses as well, after two or three hours you can do with a break.


Ben Clapton said...

I'm scared of those noise-cancelling headphones. The problem with them is that it doesn't reduce the noise, only cancels it. So if you're in a plane, the jet engines are going at 140db. Taking into account the insulation of the plane body, it still could be 100db at your ears. With noise cancelling headphones, sure, you won't be able to hear the noise, but the sound level is still there. It doesn't matter that you can't hear it, 100db for 3-4 hours (or more) will certainly do damage to your hearing.

When I do some flying (which admittedly, I haven't done, so I can't say whether this will work or not), I plan on taking my musicians earplugs, and putting my headphones over the top.

violainvilnius said...

wow, that's scary stuff. Is there 'scientific' evidence for this, or just your, admittedly commonsense, logic?